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Blue Coat Gamble

By Neil Moran

When the wrong kind of cops raid a gambling joint, the odds
may not always ride with the blue coats

JUDSON JUDDERS moved among his guests, with the air of a man pleased with himself. It was a profitable business. Here in this house, in a side street off Fifth Avenue, he conducted a gambling house for the select few. People of means came to play the roulette wheel, or roll dice, or play cards. The large room, beautifully appointed, was filled with men and women in evening clothes.

But all was not to go well that night, though Judson Judders didn't know that. On the way to the club, at this very hour—it was eleven o'clock—six men rode in a car. They were dressed as policemen, with the exception of the driver, and carried night sticks and concealed guns.

Butch Brierly, their leader, had overheard the conversation of two men at a bar who had gone to the club. They had given its location, and had talked of the money won and lost, and of the women who wore necklaces and jewels. Butch had seen his chance to do something a little different.

So he had procured uniforms, night sticks, hats and shields, and had instructed his men.

"Now, remember," said Butch, looking out of the window, "everything must be done fast. Timson will run the car around to Fifth Avenue, park it, and keep the motor running. Sampson will station himself at the door. You, Eddie, Nick, and Beans, will come in with me. We cover everybody, and soon they'll know it's a holdup, and not a raid. Now, are there any questions?"

"None," Timson said. "I've got the lay."

"And you, Sampson?"

"I stay at the door. Tip you off if anything outside goes wrong."


"No, I got it all down."

"And you, Nick and Beans?"


"Well, it's a perfect setup and we ought to get away with it. The street will be deserted, or almost deserted. No crowd milling around. No talk going through the neighborhood about a raid."

"How about police radio cars and cops on the beat?" said Timson.

"Not likely that anyone will come through. It's not a main thoroughfare. At this time of night, it's just the occasional pedestrian. But keep your eyes peeled, Sampson. If you see any people going up or down the street, step into the vestibule."

"O. K."

The car hummed along, turned off Fifth Avenue, and purred down the street. "That house over there," said Butch. "The sixth from the corner. That's the number. Now, you guys all set?"

"All set."

"O. K., Timson, run the car around Fifth Avenue to the right and park it and keep the motor running. You, Sampson, remember what you're supposed to do at the door. Everything must click. Is anyone coming up or going down the street?"

"I don't see anyone," said Timson.

THE car stopped, and five men got out. Timson swung the car around, and sped toward Fifth Avenue. Butch and the others went up the steps. Sampson stepped over a couple of feet and stopped.

Butch rang the bell.

It echoed through the house, and Judders looked up, He had a signal for his guests, but this was only one ring.

"See who that is," he said to one of his men.

The man went to the door, and peeked out from behind the curtains. He saw what he took to be the police. He turned, ran back to Judders, and told him. The bell rang again.

"A raid!" said Judders. "How did they ever—?"

But it was no time to ask questions. Judders ran into the large room, told the croupiers to conceal the paraphernalia. He explained to the guests quickly that the police were outside.

"Now, nothing to worry about," he said. Anticipating something like this, everything moved swiftly and smoothly. The guests were told to start dancing. A radio was turned on. Music filled the room. The guests, knowing what was expected of them, began the pretense. Judders flew into the bar. He told the bartender and the guests there what was happening, and for the guests to go on drinking.

"I'll get rid of them," he said. "Everybody just take it easy." The bell rang again, an insistent ring now, for Butch was becoming impatient. The door opened, and a gray-haired man appeared.

"What is it?" he said.

"Open up!" said Butch. "This is a raid!"

"A raid? You must be mistaken. This is a social club."

"Yeah?" Butch was pushing the man aside and, with the others, was entering. Judders greeted him.

"What is this, Officer?" he said.

"Don't try to kid me," said Butch. "This is a gambling club."

"Oh, but you are mistaken. This is—"

"That's what the other fellow said," said Butch. "Now, listen, I ain't going to fool around with you. Where is the gambling room?" A gun suddenly appeared in Butch's hand.

"Why, I can take you into the main room and show you the guests," said Judders. "They're dancing."

"Yeah? Well, Eddie, suppose you cover the people in the bar. And you, Nick and Beans, come with me."

They had drawn their guns. Judders knew it would be futile to resist them. He didn't want to resist them. He wanted to get rid of them in his own way, and laugh up his sleeve. But as Butch, Nick, and Beans stepped into the room, Judders suddenly realized that this was a holdup!

"Line up against the wall," said Butch, "and hand over your jewels. Where's the money?"

"You're not the police!" Judders said.

"What do you think?" Butch pushed him out of the way. He strode across the room, brandished his gun. Now the guests and croupiers realizing that these were holdup men, became alarmed.

OUTSIDE, Sampson was looking up and down the street. Well, the boys had got in and it wouldn't be long now. The street was deserted, save for an occasional pedestrian. It was a perfect setup, as Butch had said, duck soup, the kind of thing that could only happen once in a lifetime.

Then down the street came Michael Gilroy on his way home, after having left his girl at a house over near Third Avenue. It was a heavenly night to Michael, because he was in love, and soon would be married. He looked at the stars, the moon, and then he saw the uniformed man at the door.

"Oho," he said. "What's this?"

He stopped, and looked up at Sampson. Sampson told him to move along.

"What's the matter?" Michael said, staring at Sampson.

"Don't ask questions," Sampson said, trying to act like a gruff cop.

"Was somebody murdered?" said Michael.

"I told you not to ask questions. You have no business here. Get along."

Michael kept staring at him. "Was it a suicide?" he said. "You see, Officer, I'm—"

"If you don't beat it," said Sampson, "I'll run you in."

Then Michael saw something that sent him flying down the steps. Puzzled, he hurried up the street and turned a corner, just as a radio police car came along. He flagged it.

The driver stopped, and Michael walked over.

"I'm Patrolman Gilroy," he said, "from an uptown precinct." He flashed his shield.

"Yeah? What can we do for you, Gilroy?" said the driver.

"I was just passing that house," said Michael, and explained. Then he added something that brought the driver and the man with him, up in their seats. "That guy is no cop. He's a phony!"

"No cop?" said the driver. "I was going to ask you why you didn't tell him that you were a cop."

"Oh, I was about to," said Michael, "when—"

"But how do you know he's no cop?" Michael leaned over and whispered.

"It clicks!" said the driver. "Get in. Gilroy, you'll be made a detective for this. But we've got to get around to that house before they get away."

Michael got in, and the car sped around the corner. The driver stopped it. "It would be better for you to get out here. Go back to that guy and get the drop on him. He'll think you're just a nosy citizen. Then Mahoney and I will appear. You'd better flash the station, Mahoney, to get more men here."

Michael sprang out and walked down the street. Sampson saw him coming. There was that pest again. A drunk or a crazy guy.

Michael Gilroy stopped and looked up. "Hey, listen," he said, "a woman was struck by a car around the corner. I thought you should know."

"Call the police."

"But look," said Michael, starting up the steps, "you're a policeman and—"

Suddenly, Sampson felt his arm twisted. The night stick dropped out of his hand. Michael had drawn his gun and was patting Sampson's pockets. He got what he wanted.

The radio-car driver and Mahoney appeared.

They pushed the man into the patrol car. Timson, who had got out of his car, and looked down the street, saw what was happening. He ran back to the car, jumped into it, and drove off.

BUTCH, inside with his men, were completing the job. Everything was under control. Guns pointed. Jewels and necklaces in the bag. Judders stood frustrated, chagrined, that holdup men were walking off with his profits.

"And I guess," said Butch, "that you won't say anything about this. You'll keep your mouth shut. For if you squawk, the police will have you for running a gambling den. It's a natural!"

Starting toward the door, the guns pointed, Butch and his men were making their exit. Butch opened the door, but where was Sampson? Butch and the others ran down the steps, a little bewildered.

Then as they started toward Fifth Avenue, commands came from behind them to raise their hands. Two policemen and Gilroy had stepped out of a dark passageway.

Butch, realizing that they were trapped, raised his hands, followed by the others. Gilroy, Mahoney, and the driver walked over and frisked them.

Butch swung around. "Where's the guy that was at the door?" he said. "What happened?"

"Well, this nosy guy here," said the driver, grinning, "was passing, and went up and asked your front man what was the matter? He figured he was a phony cop."

"I don't get it," said Butch. "We looked like cops. We had everything regular."

"Yes, and he might have fooled me," said Gilroy. "Probably would have. If it hadn't been—you see, I'm a cop, too, and that guy was wearing my shield number on his shield. Get it?"